The fact that we are using electricity every day in our homes may make it easy for people to forget just how dangerous it can be.
However, according to the NFPA or the National Fire Protection Association, electrical malfunctions or failures account for the second leading cause of residential fires in the US between the year 2012 and 2016. This statistics only goes to show how dangerous electricity can be if we fail to observe all safety measures when dealing with it.
The bottom line is, by all means, we need to put safety at the top of our priority when we are dealing with electricity. And, one of the most efficient ways to enhance your protection against electrical hazards at home is by making sure that your home has an appropriate grounding system.
Electrical Grounding – What Is It and How Does It Work?
Proper grounding is a critical electrical safety feature designed to enhance your protection from electric shocks, as well as keep your appliances protected from the damaging impacts of power surges.
Electrical grounding works by providing a physical connection between your home electrical system and the ground. The ground wire is attached to the electrical wiring system of your house, while the other end of the wire is buried firmly in the ground, just as the name implies.
As electricity finds the shortest route back to the earth, if there is a problem where the neutral wire is interrupted or defective, for instance in a short-circuit situation, the grounding wire is the one that will provide a direct path to the ground.
By grounding your electrical wiring system, you are giving the electric current somewhere to go, or an alternate quickest path, other than into your appliances or possibly you – saving you from potentially deadly electric shocks.
The Benefits of Proper Electrical Grounding
Proper grounding is an important electrical safety feature that homeowners should not overlook, and its key benefits include the following:
- It allows electrical currents to safely and efficiently travel throughout your home electrical system.
- With a grounded electrical system, you’ll have enhanced protection against electrical injuries and damages to your appliances in case of overloading and power surges.
- Proper electrical grounding can help stabilize voltage levels making it easier for the correct electric current distribution in the entire circuits of your home to avoid short circuits or overloading.
Is Your Home Properly Grounded?
Newer homes most likely come with a reliable grounding system due to updated safety standards and building codes.
But, if you live in an older home or you are unsure whether or not your house has a proper grounding in place, you can contact a qualified technician to test or check out your electrical wiring system.
On the other hand, determining if your house wiring system is grounded is relatively easy with the use of a simple plug-in tester tool. However, you have to keep in mind that since you are dealing with electricity, you need to be careful because of the safety hazards involved. To determine if your house wiring is grounded, follow these steps:
- Look at the outlets in your home. Usually, you can tell if there is a proper grounding if you have a three-prong outlet. The U-shaped slot of the outlet indicates the grounding component.
- Insert the tester’s red probe into the smaller slot of the receptacle which is the hot wire that provides electricity to the appliance.
- Insert the black probe of the tester into the larger outlet slot which is the neutral slot that completes the circuit.
- Once you get a positive voltage reading result while plugging the two probes into the two slots, remove the black probe from the larger slot and insert it into the U-shaped outlet slot. You will know that the power outlet is grounded if your voltage reading is the same now as it was when you inserted the black probe into the larger outlet slot.
- If the tester did not read voltage when you inserted the red probe into the small slot and the black probe in the ground slot, then keep the black probe in place. Move the red probe over to the larger outlet slot. If you get a positive voltage reading in this position, then this is a case of a reverse polarity where the outlet is grounded, but it was wired in reverse. You should contact an electrician to have it corrected.
- If the tester reads positive voltage when both probes are in the top two slots, but it doesn’t read voltage through either slot when you place the probe into the U-shaped ground hole, that means the outlet is not grounded.
Check all of the remaining outlets in your home to find out whether this is an isolated case or the rest are having the same issue. In any case, contact an electrician to have the non-grounded outlets taken cared of for proper protection.